Tips For Talking To A Senior About Housing

Tim Watt  |  August 2, 2012

Most family caregivers do not look forward to the conversation they will have about senior housing with a loved one. The topic of where the senior will live when they can no longer care for themselves can be difficult to broach, but it is necessary for the senior to have some say in the decision. A study from found that adult children are responsible for their elderly parent's housing transition about 73 percent of the time, but seniors themselves are involved about 70 percent of time - only making the decision independently 10 percent of the time, according to the Assisted Living Federation of America.

Including the senior in the decision is crucial to maintaining their sense of dignity, but it's not always easy to bring up. Here are some tips caregivers can use to discuss independent or assisted living options with a loved one.

Feel them out

It can be alarming and upsetting for some seniors when their children tell them what they are and are not allowed to do - especially when this involves the individual's sense of independence. Instead of flat out telling a senior they should move, caregivers should try to feel them out on the issue and approach it gently, AARP reports.

Caregivers should raise the issues indirectly, like discussing another friend of the family who entered senior living, then asking the senior if that is something that is of any interest. Resistance should be expected - many seniors consider it a point of pride that they are able to live on their own. Expressing concern and outlining the aspects of senior living that could make the senior's life easier are some gentle ways caregivers can push for elder care. It can also help to bring up the various options for senior living - whether the best option is Alzheimer's care or another type of assisted living, independent living, or even short term respite stays at a community.  

Remember respect

Even if the caretaking relationship from parent to child has been switched for some time, it is important that adult children remember to treat seniors with the utmost respect, asking for their opinions and listening to their thoughts and concerns, reports. Empathy is also important. Caregivers should treat parents they way they would wish to be treated, trying to understand how the senior might be feeling about the decision.

At the end of the day, adult children must also realize that the senior's decisions are his or her own. If safety is a serious issue involved in the decision, it might be a good idea to bring in a third party, such as a clergy member or friend of the family, AARP recommends.